Basic Biographical Details

Name: William John Blain
Designation: Architect
Born: 27 January 1870
Died: 30 January 1958
Bio Notes: William John Blain was born at Dailly, Ayrshire on 27 January 1870, the son of Robert Blain, Factor and his wife Barbara McCreadie. He was educated at Irvine Royal Academy and Glasgow School of Art and Technical College. He began his apprenticeship with John Murdoch of Ayr in April 1885, completing it with John Hutchison of Glasgow from July 1889 to 1890 and remaining with the latter as draughtsman until 1892. At that time (1891) he was living with his brother and his brother's wife at St George's Road, Glasgow . He then became assistant to John James Burnet, then of John Burnet Son & Campbell, from 1892, becoming a legendary figure as one of Burnet's leading draughtsmen and securing the position of Chief Assistant c.1896. He travelled in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany for periods in 1906, 1907 and 1909, and sketched throughout Scotland and England. He was effectively in charge of Burnet's Glasgow office from 1905 and was President of the Glasgow Architectural Association in 1906-7. He gave a number of lectures to architectural societies in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, a measure of his standing in the profession at that time.

In 1909 Norman Aitken Dick bought a partnership in Burnet's Glasgow practice, a development which caused Blain and the Glasgow staff some disappointment. Thereafter he spent much of his time in the London office working on the British Museum and on the General Accident building. He was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, his proposers being John Bennie Wilson and the Glasgow Institute of Architects. Shortly afterwards, in 1912, he was taken into partnership by Alexander Cochran Denny. Born in 1878, Denny had been practising on his own account in Dumbarton since 1903, his clients being mainly members of the shipbuilding family of that name. Initially the practice of Denny & Blain had two offices, one at 209 St Vincent Street, quite near that of John Burnet and Son with Blain in charge and another at 17 High Street Dumbarton where Denny was in charge, but in 1915 the practice was concentrated at 144 St Vincent Street. It was in that year that Robert Blain, presumably William's son, entered the practice as an apprentice, having initially been articled to Watson & Salmond.

In 1920 Robert Mackison McNaught, who had served his apprenticeship with the firm from 1912 and had subsequently undertaken military service followed by a year with Campbell & Hislop, returned to the practice as chief assistant and subsequently junior partner, but he left in 1925 to work for Bradshaw Gass & Hope in Bolton. Prior to this, in January 1921, Robert Blain had also been taken into partnership, having likewise returned to the practice as an assistant after war service in February 1919. In early 1921 William John Blain was elected FRIBA, proposed by John Watson, William Brown Whitie and David Salmond.

William John Blain was regarded as an exceptionally able designer by his contemporaries, but no really major commission came his way despite Denny's influential connections. The work of the practice was predominantly cinemas and theatres. It moved to Blain's house at 11 Lockerbie Avenue, Newlands in 1942 where it seems to have petered out in 1944. Denny's interest in the practice presumably ended with that final move. He died on 2 July 1947. The archive was acquired from Blain by Weddell & Thomson in 1955: Blain and Weddell were old friends and colleagues from their days in Burnet's Glasgow office. Blain died on 30 January 1958 of cerebral thrombosis at 11 Lockerbie Avenue, Newlands.

William John Blain may have been related to Robert Blain but there is no evidence of this.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5239 (or 209?), St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1911 * with John James Burnet
Item 2 of 511, Lauderdale Avenue, Newlands, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1911After 1920 
Item 3 of 5209, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1912 *Before 1915 
Item 4 of 5144, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 19151940At least until this date
Item 5 of 511, Lockerbie Avenue, Newlands, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate/businessc. 1942After 1958 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 7John Murdoch18851889Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7John Hutchison18891890Apprentice 
Item 3 of 7John Hutchison18901892Draughtsman 
Item 4 of 7Burnet Son & Campbell1892c. 1896Assistant 
Item 5 of 7Burnet Son & Campbellc. 18961897Chief Assistant 
Item 6 of 7John Burnet & Son1897After 1911Chief Assistant 
Item 7 of 7Denny & Blain19121944Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 4David SalmondEarly 1921for Fellowship
Item 2 of 4John WatsonEarly 1921for Fellowship
Item 3 of 4William Brown WhitieEarly 1921for Fellowship
Item 4 of 4John Bennie Wilson20 July 1911for Licentiateship - as President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6George Annand12 November 1940for Associateship
Item 2 of 6John Easton2 December 1935for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 6George Gerard HowardMid 1923for Associateship
Item 4 of 6John Sibbald McKay11 June 1923For Associateship
Item 5 of 6Robert Mackison McNaughtLate 1922for Associateship
Item 6 of 6Robert Mackison McNaught20 July 1943for Fellowship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 131 Drumellan HouseMaybole AyrshireScotlandUndated drawings, possibly by Denny & Blain
Item 2 of 131 Dumbarton East ParkDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandUndated drawings
Item 3 of 1311903Professional & Civil Service Supply Association  EdinburghScotlandAs chief assistant for John Burnet & Son
Item 4 of 1311904British MuseumBloomsbury LondonEnglandKing Edward VII Wing (North Wing) and British Museum Avenue running N from new wing laid out. - as Chief Assistant to Sir John James Burnet
Item 5 of 1311907The Merchants' House  GlasgowScotlandAddition of upper storeys, alterations to tower and interior work - as Chief Assistant to Sir John James Burnet
Item 6 of 1311909Alhambra Theatre  GlasgowScotlandAs chief assistant to John James Burnet
Item 7 of 1311909General Accident Assurance BuildingsAldwych LondonEnglandAs Chief Assistant to Sir John James Burnet
Item 8 of 1311910R W Forsyth Ltd Department Store  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Assistant to Sir John James Burnet
Item 9 of 1311912Dumbarton Combination PoorhouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations/additions? - may be by Denny alone.
Item 10 of 1311912Dumbarton Combination PoorhouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandWaterworks
Item 11 of 1311912Leven ShipyardDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 12 of 1311912St Mungo Manufacturing CompanyGovan GlasgowScotlandCommenced by Denny alone; completed in partnership
Item 13 of 1311912Wellington PalaceGorbals GlasgowScotlandAlterations?
Item 14 of 131After 1912103 High StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 15 of 131After 1912311 Argyle Street and 83 Robertson Street  GlasgowScotlandDate of work not known
Item 16 of 131After 1912Alloa Ship Yard OfficesAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandDrawings not dated or signed
Item 17 of 131After 1912Clydesdale BankDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandDrawings not signed - may not be Denny and Blain
Item 18 of 131After 1912(?)Coatbridge Picture HouseCoatbridge LanarkshireScotlandMay be architects? Drawing not signed
Item 19 of 131After 1912(?)Dumbarton Co-operative Society Central PremisesDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandNew build? Drawings not dated. May be by Denny alone
Item 20 of 131c. 1912HelensleeDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandDrawing not dated. May be solely by Denny. Probably addition.
Item 21 of 1311913Alexandria Picture HouseAlexandria DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 22 of 1311913Conservative Club  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 23 of 1311913DunstaneDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 24 of 1311914135-137 High StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandMay be by Denny and Blain
Item 25 of 1311914Dixon StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 26 of 1311914Dumbarton Combination PoorhouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations
Item 27 of 1311914Notre Dame Convent and School, ClerkhillDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 28 of 1311914RockleaHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandBedroom extension
Item 29 of 1311915Garage at Greenhead RoadDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 30 of 1311915Offices at Marshall, Fleming and CoMotherwell LanarkshireScotland 
Item 31 of 1311915Workmen's Mess Room, Leven ShipyardDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 32 of 131After 1915186 Nithsdale RoadPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 131After 191521 Bath Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 131After 1915262 North Woodside Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 131After 19153, 4 and 5 Claremont Terrace  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and perhaps further work
Item 36 of 131After 1915Alloa Picture HouseAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 37 of 131After 1915Bankier DistilleryCastlecary StirlingshireScotlandWork including cottages
Item 38 of 131After 1915BungalowUddingston LanarkshireScotland 
Item 39 of 131After 1915Crosslet Farm, CottageDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 40 of 131After 1915Falkirk Pavilion CinemaFalkirk StirlingshireScotland 
Item 41 of 131After 1915Garage at Centre StreetWhiteinch GlasgowScotland 
Item 42 of 131After 1915Garrion TowerWishaw LanarkshireScotlandUnspecified work
Item 43 of 131After 1915Gourock Picture HouseGourock RenfrewshireScotlandDrawings not dated
Item 44 of 131After 1915LoganleaDunblane PerthshireScotland 
Item 45 of 131After 1915MachriemoreMaybole AyrshireScotland 
Item 46 of 131Before 19151309-11 Duke Street  GlasgowScotlandDrawings not dated
Item 47 of 131Before 1915Cardross SchoolCardross DunbartonshireScotlandDrawings not dated
Item 48 of 131Before 1915Garage at Pollokshaws RoadPollokshaws GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 131191628-30 High StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 50 of 131191632-34 High StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandMay be architects? Drawing not signed
Item 51 of 1311916Cooperage, Hyde Park Street  London?England 
Item 52 of 1311916Hunter Street  GlasgowScotlandUnspecified work
Item 53 of 1311916Mid Gartocharn FarmGartocharn DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 54 of 1311916Springbank InnDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandMay be by Denny and Blain - drawing not signed
Item 55 of 1311916Troon Picture HouseTroon AyrshireScotlandAlterations?
Item 56 of 1311919Ambulance GarageDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 57 of 1311919Brock Memorial BathsDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 58 of 1311919La Scala Picture HouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 59 of 1311920Dixon StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations
Item 60 of 1311920Dunbritton HouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 61 of 1311920Picture House for Kilbirnie DistrictKilbirnie AyrshireScotland 
Item 62 of 131Before 1920Dailly UF ChurchDailly AyrshireScotland 
Item 63 of 131Before 1920Three villasGiffnock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 64 of 1311921Cinema House  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 65 of 1311921Imperial HotelOban ArgyllScotlandAlterations to form baker's shop and tearoom
Item 66 of 131After 1921(?)Parade CinemaDennistoun GlasgowScotlandAlterations? Called 'New Parade Cinema'
Item 67 of 1311922Clubhouse for Dumbarton Bowling ClubDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 68 of 1311922Cottages, DumbartonDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 69 of 1311922Dumbarton Co-operative SocietyDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 70 of 1311923Bungalow, HelensburghHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 71 of 1311924101 High StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 72 of 1311924Broomhill GarageHyndland GlasgowScotland 
Item 73 of 1311924BungalowWhiting BayArranButeScotland 
Item 74 of 1311924Ex-Servicemen's ClubDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandMay be architects? Drawing not signed
Item 75 of 1311924Kilbirnie Picture HouseKilbirnie AyrshireScotland 
Item 76 of 1311924McGrouther's PropertyDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations?
Item 77 of 1311924Parish Council ChambersDalmuir DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 78 of 1311924(?)Rialto Picture HouseKirkcaldy FifeScotlandDrawings not signed, but may be by Denny & Blain
Item 79 of 1311925205 Wilton StreetKelvinside GlasgowScotland 
Item 80 of 1311925(?)McLetchie's PropertyDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandMay be architects? Drawing not signed
Item 81 of 1311926King's Theatre  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 82 of 1311926MachriemoreMaybole AyrshireScotlandFurther work
Item 83 of 1311927104 South Brae AvenueJordanhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 84 of 131192754 Main StreetDuntocher DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 85 of 1311927Cairndow HotelCairndow ArgyllScotland 
Item 86 of 1311927Church at KilmorichCairndow ArgyllScotland 
Item 87 of 1311927Cottage at CairndowCairndow ArgyllScotland 
Item 88 of 1311927Garage at RavencourtCathcart GlasgowScotland 
Item 89 of 1311927Garage, Pitt Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 90 of 1311927Overtoun Estate, Maryland FarmDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 91 of 1311927Public HallDuntocher DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 92 of 1311928Blue Vale Tavern  GlasgowScotland 
Item 93 of 1311928Hyndland Public School  GlasgowScotlandExtension
Item 94 of 1311928Tivoli Picture HousePartick GlasgowScotland 
Item 95 of 131Before 1928(?)Kirkintilloch Picture HouseKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandMay be by Denny and Blain; drawings not signed or dated
Item 96 of 1311929Central Hall Picture HouseInverness Inverness-shireScotlandAlterations? New cinema?
Item 97 of 1311929Kelso's La Scala CinemaInverness Inverness-shireScotlandAlterations?
Item 98 of 1311929Picture House, Cumbernauld Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 99 of 1311930CinemaOban ArgyllScotlandAlterations to accommodate sound reproducing plant
Item 100 of 1311930Dumbarton Masonic LodgeDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 101 of 1311930NorthcoteTurnberry AyrshireScotland 
Item 102 of 1311930Oban Picture HouseOban ArgyllScotland 
Item 103 of 1311930PlayhouseGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 104 of 131193160 George StreetOban ArgyllScotland 
Item 105 of 1311931Garage for Cowie and Sons LtdTurnberry AyrshireScotlandProbably Denny & Blain
Item 106 of 1311931Glasgow and West of Scotland Foot Hospital  GlasgowScotland 
Item 107 of 1311931High Street and Quay StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 108 of 1311931New Trades School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 109 of 1311932300 Dobbie's Loan  GlasgowScotland 
Item 110 of 1311932County RestaurantDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 111 of 1311932House for Mr PorterBurnside GlasgowScotland 
Item 112 of 1311933St Charles RC School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 113 of 1311934Property at Church StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 114 of 131193685 College Street and 42 Risk StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 115 of 1311936Berkeley Restaurant  GlasgowScotlandUnspecified work
Item 116 of 1311936Community CentreDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 117 of 1311936Dumbarton Combination PoorhouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations and/or additions - plans dated
Item 118 of 1311936House for William C MeikleEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 119 of 1311936Torrance EstateEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotlandSite plan drawn up
Item 120 of 131193878 Langside Avenue  GlasgowScotland 
Item 121 of 1311938Boathouse   Scotland 
Item 122 of 1311938BogheadDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 123 of 1311938Meadow Park Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 124 of 1311938Victoria BarClydebank DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 125 of 1311939236 Smithycroft Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 126 of 131193943 Church StreetDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 127 of 1311939Kirkintilloch Town Hall and Municipal BuildingsKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations?
Item 128 of 1311939Tulliallan HouseEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 129 of 1311940ThistlebankDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 130 of 131After 1942311 Bell Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 131 of 131194426 India Street  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 3Who's Who in Architecture1914    
Item 3 of 3Who's Who in Architecture1926    

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Birth and death dates from Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v16 no1128; F no1754 (microfilm reel 14)